The Guardian’s Anthony McGowan thinks teenagers shouldn’t read Jane Austen.
There are, of course, plenty of books that I don’t much like. Plenty more that I detest. The appalling conservatism of Jane Austen makes me retch (anyone who doubts it – I mean the conservatism, not the retching – should read Marilyn Butler’s stunning Jane Austen and the War of Ideas, which brilliantly nails Austen as one of the bad guys of Eng Lit, assuming you come at it from a Guardian-type liberal angle).
We don’t disagree that Jane Austen wrote very much from her experience as a high church Tory and that she frowned upon the excesses of emotion that characterized, for example, Wuthering Heights (which, if you scroll down to comments, Mr. McGowan thinks is just smashing). That being said, we think it’s a shame that anyone thinks teenagers should be limited from reading whatever they want, because then they might not learn to think and accept or reject ideas on their own and might grow up to be narrow-minded, humorless asses who write nonsense for the newspapers.